Top 4 Reasons to Adopt An Older Dog

By PetMD Editorial on Apr. 14, 2010

Woof Wednesday

Everyone wants a puppy. Or at least a young, spry dog still in his wet-behind-the-ears adolescence. But shelters are full of older dogs looking for a loving home. And many of these dogs are wonderful candidates. So if you’re in the market for a four-legged furry companion, read on and take into account our case for older dogs.

Old Don’t Mean Ol’ Fogey

If you think older means lots of vet bills, then think again. Many older dogs, especially those in shelters, are in perfect health. Talk to your friends with older animals and you’ll find the vast majority have pets that live well into old age without anything more than a regular checkup. Often, purebred dogs are the ones who come with hefty vet bills due to the inherited illnesses and defects they have. Mutts, on the other hand, are usually very hardy creatures. Basically, old doesn’t mean retirement-bound. It just means older, wiser, and better adjusted to the world. Which ain't bad.

House Breaking?

Puppies require extensive training and the cleaning up of “accidents” as they learn where they can and can’t go in the house. Older dogs, meanwhile, require little or no training. Even better, they know where it’s acceptable to go to the bathroom. Many of them have already come from a loving home (in a lot of cases, their owner has died and when no one else stepped forward to look after them, they ended up in a shelter), or sometimes a not so loving home … but they know the rules. And good shelters will train dogs to be the best pet ever. All the hard work has been done and you’ve got a fantastic dog on your hands that is only going to give you love and fun. Plus, no messes!

With Ages Comes Wisdom

Puppies are adorable. And rambunctious. And devious. With a puppy, you don’t know what personality you’re going to get. Sure, how you raise him will definitely shape him into the dog he’s going to be, but still, you just never know what kind of dog he’ll be. Perhaps noisy, and way more energetic than you wanted. With an older dog, you can pick one that suits you and your lifestyle. Completely. An older dog has already got a fully developed personality. He’s wise with the ways of the world. And, he’s not suddenly going to morph into the dog that needs to have a five-mile run every day.


An older dog often already knows the score. He knows what kids are like and how to act around them (especially when little eager hands become a little too eager). A young dog may react to children harshly (when they’re not used to them), but older dogs often will sit and suffer in good-natured silence. But best of all, the staff at the shelter can guide you to the kid-friendly dogs.

Older dogs are great, and should never be overlooked when you’re looking for a new friend. We know puppies are adorable and almost near-irresistible, but there is something to be said for the elegance and dignity and beauty of an older animal.

And, as April is prevention of cruelty to animals month, perhaps adopting a dog who’s never really known a loving home, but is yearning for one, will be the greatest gift you can give -- both to the dog and to yourself.

Woof! It’s Wednesday.

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